Back-seat drivers get their day at Topsham Fair

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TOPSHAM — You may loathe backseat drivers, but they come in quite handy at the Topsham Fair, where the Back Seat Drivers Contest was among the events that returned to the fair in its 155th year.

Participants had to drive a golf cart around a course as fast as they could, running over as few cones as possible along the way, before crossing the finish line. The blindfolded driver was guided by a partner, who sat in the back seat.

Striking a cone but not knocking it over incurred a 5-second penalty, while knocking it over brought a 10-second penalty and hitting the fences on either side of the track resulted in disqualification.

Marilyn Hunter – a fair volunteer whose father-in-law, Tad Hunter, is fair president – served as timekeeper and announcer for the event. She watched as one driver came just inches away from running into her truck.

“You didn’t listen,” the person in the back seat told his driver. “I should’ve been the one driving. I listen better!”

Jason Lavoie of Turner, who drove the course with his girlfriend, Christina Ford, called the experience “a little different. I had to trust Christina’s direction. I think she did a pretty good job; I couldn’t tell.”

Ford said the course wasn’t too stressful, until they got to the cones. “Once you get there, you’re like, oh my God!,” she said.

“I thought I had the course memorized, but once I took a couple turns I was lost,” Lavoie said.

Some back-seaters clamped their hands onto the driver’s shoulders, turning them in the correct direction if they were too slow to respond to “left” or “right.”

Hunter said her near-truck mishap was about the craziest thing she’s witnessed in the event. No one has ever been run over, she said.

This year there were 16 entries, and the winner, Mary and Beth Kusturin, completed the course in a record time of 31 seconds and earned $50.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

topsfaircart.jpgA pair of Back Seat Drivers Contest competitors squeeze past a cone at the Topsham Fair on Sunday, Aug. 9. They were among 16 couples who entered the event.

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topsfair.jpgCarissa Saindon of Lewiston feeds hay to a donkey at the Topsham Fair on Sunday, Aug. 9.

Last licks

Here are activities for the final day of the Topsham Fair, Saturday, Aug. 15:

• 9 a.m.: Horse log haul contest at Area 2, youth beef and youth dairy shows at Show Ring A.

• 11:30 a.m.: Magician Amazing Lou at Area 3.

• Noon: Craft fair at Exhibition Hall.

• 1 p.m.: Harness racing at Area 1, antique tractor pull at Area 2, whoopee pie judging at Exhibition Hall.

• 1:30 p.m.: The Light Body Dancers, jazz and hip hop performers, at Area 3.

• 2 p.m.: Midway opens, 4-H demonstrations at Show Ring A.

• 3 p.m.: Ladies of the Lake and the Stillson School of Irish Step Dancers at Area 3.

• 4:30 p.m.: Old Gray Goose fiddle concert at Area 3.

• 5:30 p.m.: Empty Head at Area 1.

• 6:30 p.m.: Demolition derby car auction at Area 1.

• 7 p.m.: Demolition derby at Area 1.

• 10 p.m.: Fireworks at Area 1.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.